Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Jim Butterfield

Second Advisor

Dr. Sybil D. Rhodes

Third Advisor

Dr. Adam Sabra

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


This study aims to refute claims of Islamic exceptionalism in the midst of recent waves of democratization, thereby disproving assumptions of any incompatibility between democracy and Islam. My research will show that such sweeping assumptions gloss over significant, developmental democratic movements within Muslim nations as well as several uniquely Islamic supports for democratic ideals and institutions.

I begin by examining recent political activities conducive to democracy in Muslim states, by distinguishing between divergent principles in the Qur' an, some of which have been used by moderate, democratically-oriented Islamists, and by realizing the historical, political antecedents leading to a rise in radical Islamism in the 20th century, disaggregating the political versus religious causes for non-democratic elements in several Islamic lands. I then proceed with a quantitative analysis of contemporary conditions in all 46 Muslim-majority nations. I attempt a revision of indices used to measure democracy by focusing on institutional components and by averaging my Institutional Democracy Index (IDI) with other existing indices to create a more reliable Aggregated Democracy Index (ADI). Finally, a lack of correlation is shown between ADI ratings and measures of religiosity and Muslim population demographics, indicating the need to focus the discipline's attention on other causal factors of democratization.